More advice to frantic families planning nuptials, but also hopefully useful for those merely working on a hardy party.
Make picking the pour fun.
Determine your beverage budget; that gives you price range of what you pour.
Taste in your price range. Don’t go for top-shelf, there won’t be the right atmosphere to enjoy nuances of expensive quality. Still, spending a few dollars more than box wine can move your event to the next level.
Wine sellers are great sources of help. Get recommendations, buy bottles, taste for yourself. It’s a great way to have fun working on your wedding/party. Also exposes you to new wines, a good thing, and maybe you find a little-known treasure that wows wedding guests.
Same for beer. Maybe groom and friends pick beers, bride and friends pick wines, parents pick bubbly. Or have fun doing it all together.
You don’t have to bear this expense alone. Stores can set up a bridal registry that allows friends and family to help purchase wines and beers you’ve picked for your party. It’s similar to a bridal registry for gifts, but the gift is helping you with wedding beverages. Works for Quinceañeros, too.
Note: if your party is held at venue licensed to sell alcohol, legally you must purchase your beverages through the venue. Costs will at least double over same bottle in a store. Still, you should be able to pick what you want to pour.
• Woodbridge. Robert Mondavi, among best of value plays in 1.5-liter (twice size of standard wine bottle); 13 different varietals/blends. $13
• Beringer Vineyards Founder’s Estate Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. 1.5-liter. $18
• Santa Helena Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon. Spicy with finesse by major Chilean maker. $7.50
• Alexander Valley Vineyard Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. 750 ml. $17